Neil Robertson’s outstanding form continued as he crushed Michael Georgiou 10-1 in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.
Robertson has already won three ranking titles in a season for the first time in his career and arrives in Sheffield on a run of four consecutive ranking finals. His performance on the opening weekend strengthens his status as one of the favourites for the title at the Crucible.
Georgiou became the first ever Cypriot player to compete at the Crucible, and while he suffered a heavy defeat, he at least avoided the ignominy of becoming only the second player to be whitewashed at the famous venue, after Eddie Charlton who lost 10-0 to John Parrott in 1992.
Starting tonight’s session 9-0 down, Georgiou was also in danger of setting a new record for the lowest number of points scored in a match at the Crucible, held by part-time binman Danny Fowler who amassed 191 points during his 10-1 defeat to Stephen Hendry in 1993. A break of 90 from Georgiou in the first frame tonight saw him avoid that record and raised the biggest cheer of the day.
Robertson took a 9-0 lead on Saturday with top breaks of 58, 100, 96, 68, 120, 85 and 55. Despite losing the first frame tonight, he sealed victory in the next with a 64 clearance which included a series of flamboyant pots.
And the 37-year-old Australian, who won this title in 2010, looks in the mood to become the first non-British player to lift the famous trophy twice.
In the last 16 he could face a blockbuster clash with Shaun Murphy, who played tremendous snooker today in taking a 9-0 lead over Luo Honghao.
“I had a great start, put Michael under a lot of pressure and just kept him in his chair,” said world number four Robertson. “It’s a brutal game when you’re on the receiving end of a heavy defeat or heavy loss in a session. When you draw a debutant I guess you can take advantage of them not knowing what to expect when they get out there.
Georgiou celebrates getting a frame on the board
“I know he won the Shoot Out but he probably hasn’t experienced anything like that before. The crowd are so close to you that even when you make the slightest of mistakes you can hear them whispering. I was really pleased with how I played yesterday for sure. I was just pretty ruthless.
“Yesterday when I left the Crucible it took me about 45 minutes to get to the top of the road because I stopped for all the selfies and autographs. I was 9-0 up so I didn’t mind having to wait. I had about 400 people tell me ‘you’ve got to let him win a frame!’ The killer instinct in me was saying I’d love to win 10-0, but I like Michael a lot and I wanted him to take something away from the experience of playing here. I tried to win the first frame tonight but he made a really good break.
“The most important thing for me was to finish nice and early so I can go back home for a few days, chill out and practise before heading back up. If I play Shaun Murphy next, he will definitely be up for it because he doesn’t like not being talked about as a potential candidate to win the tournament, he’ll be very determined to put that right.
“Whatever happens it’s my best ever season by a million miles. I’m just playing and enjoying it and I guess that makes me a very dangerous opponent.”
Georgiou said: “I was really pleased that I could show people what I could actually do on the table tonight. I didn’t actually expect the noise from the crowd to be that high. It’s definitely inspiring to be here. Yesterday I just found myself looking around which is probably the wrong thing to do. It was the first time that I’ve actually stepped inside the Crucible and my focus wasn’t on the match.
“That’s up there with one of the best experiences of my life. It’s so crazy, I’m used to watching it all on TV and watching the documentaries. I didn’t expect it to be so small but it was just brilliant. The noise was crazy when I walked out. The crowd were fantastic, the table was great, like an ice rink. It has definitely inspired me to work harder next season and get here again.”